26 Feb Rope block- writers block
This is a post about writing, about rope, about writers block and about rope block. No blocks were harmed in the making of this post.
I was in my early 20s’ and had just moved to London thinking I would be writing and working for a few months. I had just spent a year in a remote area in the Swedish countryside attending a creative writing course. Language have always felt easy for me, especially as a teenager when I felt isolated and lonely, lacking a way of expressing those things I could not say, writing was that which never failed me. However, I was not so very clever thinking that London would be a good place for writing. I’m a magpie. Things in London are shiny. People are shiny. So shiny in fact, they dress up in shiny clothes and do bad good things to each other. London gave me something new, showed me a possibility of who I could be and what I longed for. Gave me a new language.
But as in any other fairytale, there is no gift without a consequence. After having spent that long with Swedish, becoming a ninjasuperherogodlike creature of writing and literature in that total immersion, I was now in a different context. One in which I was not training that little nerve of language, not Swedish one. Although I was verbally fluent in English, and took a couple of random creative writing courses during the first year, it was still a language I spoke better than I was writing it. It was a strange feeling, like falling between two chairs; not using one language enough to feel as if I could convey myself creatively and not yet being fluent enough in another to command it a way that felt satisfactory.
Other things pulled my attention away from writing. Another language I felt as if I could express myself became rope. A lot of my comprehension and appreciation of rope came through writing about those experiences, but that writing is very different. It is another type of craft, even if you use the same tools. Poetry and the lyrical writing was and is another kettle of fish that demans other perspectives, and even if I kept on jotting down lines every now and again, the article, or the blogpost was more a way of documenting the madness and love which ensued during a couple of intense years rather than a craft in and of itself.
By and by, I felt like I was loosing the interest in doing this as well. Blogposts became fewer and more far in between. As for the experiences, it felt as if I was disingenuous, because there is one thing that is hard to talk about in the ropecommunities, and in BDSM communities. It is hard to not be over the moon about every one of the performances that your see. It is hard to find that we pat each others backs so gallantly while skimming over the difficult questions we all like to avoid. The difficult questions that sometimes seems so circle the same roundabout, over and over again. Performances I saw became more and more similar to each other, the shiny new light was fading, and instead it felt repetitive and uninspirational. Normative. Exotifying of the other with dress up in kimonos. Objectifying of the flexible white, petite female body, in ridiculous awe of the Man who ties Dominantly. I did not feel as if I could actually say something that was not positive about a show or a class or a meetup, even if the show was a car wreck with bad tying, the class was poorly constructed or the meetup was exclusionary. There was this precarious balance in which everyone loves the one who adores, but when it becomes uncomfortable, we try and shuffle into the background, because no one likes a spoilsport.
I do believe some of this was selfcensorship, based upon the dynamics of what I experienced in the scene. We put people on pedestals, and a possible descent from that pedestal is a scary prospect.
Either way, being as annoying I am, I continued with rope anyway. Wrote more for myself. Returning to Sweden, I found some new perspectives and realised even more the values and to what I wished to strive towards. What felt important. But the poetry and the lyrical writing was still very much on hold. A manuscript in a drawer, a resistance and hesitation to start, because the words were so far away. The craft feeling unappealing, distant. My voice not relevant in its current form. It was a classic case of writers block- long haul edition. And you might wonder how come I’m writing about this. But here is the deal; writers block and rope block are super similar. They all deal with insecurities, uncertainties, the ego and about processing.
I’ve had stressful times, where I have not felt like tying. Where I’ve not understood why I’m doing it. That has literally been the words I’ve used. I don’t know why I’m tying. In these moments, rope is still present in my life, but it is in a more passive sense, almost like something that is disturbing, a negative rather than positive aspect, bugging me, feeling stressful. I don’t want to tie, don’t want to practice, get annoyed at watching rope movies, feeling guilty of not tying, feeling as if I’m lagging behind. It could be days, weeks, even months at the time.
I have just come out of another one of those blocks.From late summer, early autumn until now I have hardly touched rope. This one was the most intense so far. I was close to completely shut the door on everything rope. I was feeling resentful to always be that rope person, that a kink was defining me, as I was going to munches or parties. I was actively distancing myself, while also feeling scared, because rope is a huge part of how I understand myself, feel my body and move in space. But there was also this feeling of being stressed. Of imposter syndrome. Resting on old laurels is not something I’m interested in, but my learning curve (or lack of learning) was creating a frustration. I’m not a visual person. I am a sensory creature who find it incredibly difficult to see angles. To understand mechanics that are needed to be understood. It takes a long time for me to synthesise new information, longer than most people. That frustration of trying and failing, of finding that the energy that goes into the ropes that does not come out on the other side.
What is further a hinderance is that when you don’t know why you are doing something, it is hard to know what to focus on. Where to actually put your energy. It becomes a very… mopey space, at least for those around you who have to listen about being lost, about being unmotivated, about the insecurity of not knowing. At times almost a regression into something very childish. I think that is based upon the fear of not being there anymore, about loosing a context that feels important. Because the child in us is always asking who we would be without the people who we love, without a context in which we are someone who we can recognise and respect.
Interestingly enough, my ropeblock coincided with how I also picked up a manuscript again, one that has been resting for a very long time. Found my old writing buddies, starting drinking immense amounts of tea in a cafe, working and reworking, producing new material. Sitting with a red pen. Arguing with the printer. Anyone who has ever engaged in creative writing knows it is a lot more fuss with the small weird things than writing chunks of texts. Especially arguing with the printer part.
In order to be able to get into the world that was that manuscript I needed go there, into it, and want to spend time there. To find my voice again, to situate myself into the language and structure of a world that I’ve been away from for over 6 years. I started reading poetry again, enjoying the fucked upness of my favourite poets and writers. Both obscure and well known. It is a different kind of reading though, a reading which consumes me, rather than me consuming it. It asks so much more of me, and strangely enough (nope, not strange) it also turns my mind into something much quicker. I find it is harder to sleep since I started writing again. Finding that reading place again was like walking into a house knowing you are wearing different clothes than last time. The perversions that I had hardly started to explore when I started working on that manuscript are now a part of how I understand myself and the world around me. Pain, power, sexuality, pleasure, politics and the world is seen through different eyes. Finding that writing place with these new eyes has been strangely comforting because the house is still there, perhaps with different interiors, but walls, doors, floors and ceiling is still very much the same.
And the most simple realisation dawns on me. I was 19 when I dealt with a writers block in a constructive manner for the first time. Instead of letting it be so present that it was impossible to function, instead of seeing it as a paralysis, I came to terms with that something was not ready. Either in me or in what I produced. I started looking at what I was writing as something that was growing, or perhaps even rotting away so that only the most important part of a carcass, perhaps the bones, were left for me to study. Stephen King (yup, the one and only, he writes so well on the writing process) describes writing as a kind of archeology, you discover what is already there with various tools that needs both practice, patience and some kind of skill. So a writers block for me is about waiting for something to grow, or to rot away, or to even just mature enough to set.
Something is happening, even if it is not on the paper. Or in rope block case, in the ropes. Something is being digested, something is growing, changing shape. And sometimes, just sometimes, there is only that much that can fit into a life.
It is the same thing with ropeblock, but it feels like a different stress. Mainly because the impact words versus ropes has on those whom I wish to impact (reader versus rope partner) is somewhat different in that it carries inherrently more risk to place them in a tie to do bad good things to them. But both of these crafts, as any craft, requires that you practice and do it more. And more. And even more. Sometimes that realisation becomes a block in itself, like with any other learning. It can feel as if it is too big to grasp, or so far away. I’m not going to do some kind of bullshit ‘if you work hard enough’ ‘if you don’t give up’ kinda speech, because I don’t believe the world works like that. It is not just about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps and into the grind of what ever feels daunting. It is about much more than that, about multiple lines of factors that are interacting with each other. As much as we would like it, health or energy levels is not something we can magically alter to suit what we want to do. Time, finance, lust, desire. I do however recognise that sometimes we need to push through the grind in order to get to where we want to be, but I will never do something because it is what ‘should’ happen if there is not a drive that is about the fun, about the exploration. About the confidence you gain from failing and then sorting it out, or even that slap in the face from failing and not being able to see the way out. All of these and the endless variations are completely valid and OK.
There is a lot in the way of being able to see what and why we would do something like rope, put so much effort and time into ourselves and our partners. Sometimes, those things highlight why, sometimes it distracts and distorts. Makes us believe that what we do is not enough, or that our bodies are not welcome. Starting to believe in the hierarchy of the ties and the bodies that are seen in rope. Start buying into a culture of celebrity and pedestals. Sometimes the noise comes from all of the surrounding elements. How much history, how much terminology, how much cockfighting over specifics, which parts belongs to what. Sometimes, that noise is what can drive us forward, but sometimes it becomes defeating.
Starting to believe that our perspectives are of no use, because who are we in the end, but stardust and other small particles that hardly matters?
I have started to find comfort in knowing we are only stardust. That the white noise that is there is not because there is something wrong with me or with those around me whom I love, but because the world is fucked up. And the white noise becomes easier to deal with as we decide to fight that together. Because an army of lovers cannot loose, to quote my beloved Queer Nations Manifest.
This bout of writers’ and ropers’ block is now hopefully over. I found some grace in the mind and body of two friends who trusted me recently. One with their heartache, one with their submission to our joint experience. Two very different sessions, and still so close. Because they broke through the white noise of worry, the white noise that blocks what is important out, and perhaps I found that which had been growing or changing in me. Found the bones of what was left of that which needed to rot away in order to move more freely.
Now I am writing and doing rope. Again. Somewhere along the lines there will be more blocks. More white noise. And we will fight that which tries to destroy us, in what ever capacity we can fight. And we will forgive ourselves for when we need a rest. There is nothing else we can do.